Arsene Wenger, meeting with the press in the following moments after he emerged from the locker room, first spoke highly of his team's dominate offensive display in the fourth round of the League Cup. But it wasn't those comments that made the hoard around him question whether the gaffer has truly lost the plot.
Scotty McBumbleloins, senior football journalist for the Glasgow Divide, asked Wenger what motivational ploys he used at halftime to bring his side back from the shocking deficit. Wenger's responses to McBumbleloins questions were curious, to say the least.
"Motivational ploys?" Wenger asked back, confused. "I do not know why you ask me that. I've never had to use any motivational ploys to my squad when we never lost the lead, in any match."
"I'm sorry, but what?" McBumbleloins stammered back. "Your side went down four goals quickly, before Walcott netted his first of the match. Surely you're having a laugh!"
Wenger responded back "If the first half happened, I would have seen it. But I did not see it."
When asked what he was doing from 8:45pm to approximately 9:30pm, Wenger thought for a moment, then said "I was reading." Asked what he was reading, he said "I Am the Secret Footballer." He later added "It's clear, to me, who the secret footballer is, and it's Vivian Woodward." Later told that it couldn't possibly be Woodward, since he's been dead for nearly 59 years, Wenger smiled, placed his hand on the media member's shoulder and said "If he died, I did not see it."
McBumbleloins, adamant to get to the root cause of Wenger's sudden outbreak of severe dementia, quickly brought the conversation back to the match. "Arsene, please tell me what you saw tonight." Wenger perked up with delight as he recounted how his starters roared out of the gate from the first whistle, how easily the players shook off the late Reading score with minutes to go, and how determined the young kids were in stating their case for more playing time. Wenger then added "Any manager wants to see a kid like Damian Martinez get a clean sheet, so for us to allow that late goal stung a bit. My hope is that he realizes how strong he played tonight."
This particular brought about stares and mouths agape. Georgie St. James, junior writerman for the Newcastle Brown Daily, asked "Listen, it's clear this was an emotional match, and you are still in a state of shock, but pray tell: what, in your mind, was the final score?"
Wenger looked bemused, as if this really bit of information needed clarified. "7-1. A fantastic result. If were weren't Arsenal, and perhaps another club, we'd consider making a DVD about this historic beating." The media members assembled reached its boiling point, led by McBumbleloins.
"Arsene, the final score was 7-5, after extra time. The final score was not, in any sense, 7-1. Your side was down 4-0 in the first half before your leading scorer in all competitions this season - and one you're refusing to start for some reason that may or may not be contract-related - scored before the break to bring you down three. You did not read "I Am the Secret Footballer" from 8:45pm to 9:30pm local time because there are approximately 250 photos of you, both standing and sitting on the sidelines, slamming your water bottle against the ground, against Steve Bould, and against innocent bystanders caught in the line of bottle-throwing. And, for the record, there are better odds of a Gremlin crawling out of my bum and winning "Strictly Come Dancing" than Vivian Woodward is the Secret Footballer. I know you like to use the "I didn't see it" excuse but, I'm pleading you Arsene, this is getting to be too much."
Wenger looked down at his feet as they shuffled slightly from side to side. His hands were deep in his tailored pants pockets. After a couple seconds, he looked up to McBumbleloins. He said:
"If the first half happened, I would have seen it. But I did not see it."
And with that, he smiled and walked past the masses.